Use of preparations containing neonatal foreskin tissue
In Research News you report the successful treatment of leg ulcers with a spray containing human keratinocytes and fibroblasts derived from neonatal foreskin (1)(2). This is not the first product containing such cells to be developed by the pharmaceutical industry. However, there have to be ethical concerns about the origin of the tissue used in these products. Neonatal foreskins are removed from the healthy newborn male infants, obviously without their consent. Routine neonatal circumcision is not recommended by any medical organisation in the world. Babies are subjected to unnecessary, painful surgery, with attendant risks of complications. The procedure robs them of part of their normal genital equipment.
Doctors who do not support routine neonatal circumcision should therefore refuse to use products derived from neonatal foreskins. Patients who contemplate being treated with these products should be fully informed about the origin of the tissue and given the opportunity to receive alternative treatments not derived from tissue obtained unethically.
The demand for healthy neonatal foreskins by the pharmaceutical industry provides an incentive for the continuation of the harmful and unethical practice of routine neonatal circumcision.
1 BMJ vol 345 11 August 2012, 12-13
2 Lancet 2012; doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(12)60644-8
Dr John Warren